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Fishing For Wild Trout in Streams - Stream Fishing Wild Trout And Fishing Techniques For Catching Wild Trout In Streams

Catching wild trout is nothing like catching planted trout.  Fishing for wild trout requires patience and that you stalk them like you are hunting.  The bait for catching wild trout is important as well and knowing when to fish for wild trout is essential.  This article will teach you about how to catch wild trout including where to fish for wild trout, the best time of day to catch wild trout, and the best bait for wild trout fishing along with other wild trout fishing tips and techniques.
Catching wild trout is a lot like hunting for wild game.  Unlike planted trout, fishing for wild trout requires that you move slow and sneak up on them.  If a wild trout sees you or feels you tromping on the ground and talking, your wild trout fishing trips will never be successful.  Catching big wild trout requires that you fish at the right time of day for catching big wild trout and some folks even fish them using a solunar table that represents the phases of the moon!  Using the right bait for wild trout fishing is essential.  But first, you have to find where to fish for wild trout as many streams have mostly planted trout in them.  

Whether you are flyfishing for wild trout or casting bait or lures, these basic wild trout fishing techniques are the same.  Knowing some basic tips on catching wild trout will hugely impact your wild trout fishing success.  Fishing for wild trout like you fish for planted trout will assure that you are unsuccessful and that you will probably screw the fishing up in the stream that you are fishing for another wild trout angler.

First, you can identify good wild trout streams by checking with your local fly shop or bait shop along with reading the fish and game regulations for your area.  Often the streams that contain wild trout have special regulations such as the requirement for using an artificial lure with only one single barbless hook on it in order to preserve the wild trout population.  Most wild trout fishermen practice catch and release in the more populated areas.  If I do eat wild trout, it is usually wrapped in tin foil and cooked right when caught over a small campfire on the side of the creek as a one time annual ritual.  I practice catch and release when fishing for wild trout and I strongly encourage all those who angle for wild trout to do the same to preserve the wild trout fishing sport for your grandchildren and generations beyond.

Many of the best wild trout streams are found in areas that are remote and difficult to access.  One wild trout stream that I fish is a three hour hike through wilderness area along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern California.  The creek is very small and has shallow pools and rapids.  The creek bank is washed nearly bare in many spots from the raging snow melt in the spring but slows to a small babbling brook in the early and late summer when the season opens in that area in late May.  The trout can see you coming a mile away and if they do, that fishing hole is ruined for the day!  

Another of my favorite and best wild trout fishing streams is a mountain meadow that has a small creek meandering through it for a couple of miles.  It is a very marshy and wet area and the creek is dammed in many places with beaver dams that divide the creek into two or three smaller creeks.  There are places that are almost unfishable due to the canopy of small willow trees hanging over and into the brook.  Many places the creek is so narrow that you can jump over it and tall meadow grasses line the banks, which are undercut by the current and become homes to many huge wild trout, as do the willow protected areas.  There are fallen logs in the creek that have caught other floating branches and formed nearly unfishable wild trout habitat.  All of these nearly impossible places to fish are where the big wild trout live and are exactly where you want to fish.

Fishing for wild trout in meadows is my favorite type of wild trout fishing.  It is such a beautiful place to be, especially if you are fishing at the best time to catch wild trout, which is either at the butt crack of dawn or near sunset in the evening after the sun has disappeared over the mountains and left the creek shaded.  This is when you can see the little the trout delicately “ringing” the water ahead and advertising their presents.  You will see an ever so delicate ring in the water from the lips of a trout softly nipping a mayfly or other bug from the creek, never guessing that behind those lips is a six pound German brown trout that only a moment ago ate a 3 inch meadow mouse that fell from the bank to its demise!  There is usually a brisk mountain breeze that kicks up every evening as though its very purpose is to thwart your casting success and guard its wards from the likes of you.  You look around and see a pair of foxes out for the night appearing over and over above the high meadow grass for brief seconds as they jump in the air while frolicking with each other as their night of hunting begins.  There is an eerie quietness in the air that puts you on edge and triggers a keen alertness and awareness that there is almost certainly a mountain lion crouched and wondering about you in several ways.  You know you are the only one fishing here this day, and if that were not the case, you would be looking for somewhere else to fish as a mountain meadow wild trout stream only allows one visit by a man or woman for fishing on any one day and then shuts its doors like a tired shop-keep at the end of a cold un-busy day.  You only fish one direction and fish until dark and then walk back to your car which seemed like such a short distance as your fished your way away from it but now seems, and often is, miles away as you b-line back to it as the mountain blackness sets in.

Fishing for wild trout in meadows is a great place for fly fishing.  You have the openness for casting in many places, other than the high grass you have to avoid.  The wind is another challenge, as it catches your line and blows it in a loop as well as influences where the fly is presented in the water.  Hitting a little 3 foot wide section of the creek that has waist high grass on the sides of it is hard enough. Even the lure fishermen have difficulty placing their lure and positioning the line so it avoids the weeds.  After all, if you snag your line and have to walk ahead to the creek to retrieve it, that fishing hole is ruined.  And, keep in mind, that when fishing for wild trout you have to cast from as far away as possible to avoid detection from these wily fish that are always on guard for you and other intruders trying to fool them.

When fishing for wild trout, you have to be sly and sneak up on their lairs.  One splash, clump of the foot, cough, word, fast movement or any other avoidable action will alert them of your presents and it is over.  This is especially true when fishing for big wild trout, as they didn’t get that way from being stupid and not paying attention to their surroundings.  Most of them are as keen and intelligent as many of the fishermen that pursue them.  Whether you are fishing a meadow for wild trout or stream fishing for wild trout where the water is more rapid and flowing, stealth is a must.  You must move slow and easy and you may find yourself ducking as your walk to avoid detection.  

The best bait for catching wild trout depends on what they are eating at that particular time naturally.  The fly fisherman might visit the creek the day before and examine the current hatch of insects or other wild trout food that is presenting itself.  Some foods are present and are eaten by the wild trout year around such as worms, or even meadow mice in some cases.  It depends on where you are and the size of wild trout that you are fishing for.  As far as lures go, an 1/8th ounce panther martin is always a good choice and there is an article in Capt. Garry’s Fishing Blogs here on Fishnfools under the trout fishing category about the best lures to use for trout that you might want to read.  When using a lure for catching wild trout, it is best to remove the treble hook and replace it with a single barbless hook or at least smash the barbs of the treble hook with pliers so the fish can be safely released without harming them more than necessary.  

When fishing for wild trout, you will find the direction that you fish will be determined by the flow of the water and other characteristics of the creek.  In open water such as flowing streams where there are rapids and pools, and I am lure fishing for wild trout, I often like to cast upstream and reel downstream.  Sometimes this is impossible due to the swiftness of the creek where your lure is washed faster than you can reel or the creek is too shallow and slow and will fall to the bottom and snag in the rocks.  Here, you have to fish across the creek or cast downstream.  When fly fishing for wild trout or using bait to fish for wild trout, if you can get the right positioning on the side of the creek for casting so the bait floats by your position naturally and you can do so without being seen or heard, this is always best.  But, sometimes you have to fish in a less than perfect setting and cast upstream or down.  Regardless, presenting the bait as natural as possible is still highly important.

When fishing for wild trout in streams that are covered in willows or brush, or if the creek is small and the casting space is limited, you might find yourself dropping the bait in the water and feeding your line to the water from your hand, not your reel and pole, so you can get as naturally of a drift as possible.  When wild trout fishing, the drift is of the utmost importance in presenting your bait to the fish.  There is a good trout fishing article here in Capt. Garry’s fishing blogs as well that is a must read on the drift as linked to just above here for presenting the bait.  You will feed the line so the bait flows naturally down the creek and under the willow branches or into the little quiet pool and you had better be ready for the strike.  You will find this an awkward position as you may be setting the hook with your bare hand until you can find a way to engage the pole.  Using the pole to feed the line is best of course, but often the resistance of the line dragging across the eyelets kills the presentation of a natural drift.

How to catch wild trout is a subject that will vary from creek to creek and place to place and I am sure some of you will have your own ideas on it.  I hope you take the time to share your expertise with us here on Fishnfools in our forums or even take the time to start your own blog on our site, which is easy to do.  We all love to hear about fishing techniques for trout fishing and all types of fishing including spear fishing, clam digging, frog gigging, or any other types of fishing activity.  Our site is fun and free to join and use and we would love to have you join our free and fun site.  You guides can share your knowledge and pick up some clients at the same time.  Writing is fun and shooting the breeze with fellow fishermen is always fun so give our site a try.

Good luck on your wild trout fishing and I hope you found this article one of the best trout fishing articles you have read and will share it with your friends on facebook.
  • Capt. Garry likes this


Jun 06 2012 10:22 PM
Great article and enjoyed reading it. I can only speak from a fly fishing perspective as far as any tips for fishing native trout. I like to get in early to fishing holes and fish into the evening. I have found that this works really well in rivers and streams. I get there around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, depending on sunset time and this gives me a chance to scope out the hole, get set up and allow the fish to settle back down.

One thing I have learned over the years is that when trout are feeding, even a bear won't stop them from feeding. Once you start to see rises, your presence is no longer an issue for the trout. They have accepted you as part of the environment and are no longer spooked by you. I try to keep very still and find a shallow spot up river from where the fish are. I tend to spend a lot of time fishing in rivers from my knees to lower my profile. Also I usually drift the pools with my flies and only lift the pole and line to dry the fly as needed. This keeps my movements to a minimum and doesn't create a lot shadows with the pole.

Also using an 8 foot fly rod in small stream is tough and drifting or fishing from your knees keeps your line movement to a minimum. By drifting the pools you avoid lining the fish (i.e. sending your fly line directly over the fish) and spooking them. By kneeling and casting your line is lower and helps you avoind tangles in trees and brush that often hang over the best spots. This also helps keep your line out of the wind. If I am having a good day and the trout are rising, I will use roll casts a lot to get my fly moving and dropping onto the top of the water. This is great in the summer when bugs such as ants are falling form the trees into the stream or river. You would be surprised how many fish I have caught with a nice roll cast and drift of my fly.

Lastly, I think the best advise you can follow is to be patient. Many days I have fished a total of 5 or 6 hours but really only fished for a total of an hour as the fish turned on for a bit and then turned off. Some days you can walk in and start catching fish right away, other days you wait and wait for the fish to turn on. But if you are there when they do, there is nothing like it in the world. Remember, fishing is it's own reward, catching a fish is a bonus.
    • Capt. Garry likes this